Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mormons looking to crash this Party

They enter 2008 with the longest current win streak (10 games) in division I-A, though most don’t realize it or care. They hold the longest active conference winning streak (16 games in the MWC), and carry a home winning streak of 12 games. And rolling with momentum into 2008, the Cougars of Brigham Young University will attempt to crash the BCS Party.

The Bowl Championship Series sprang to existence with the intent to eliminate two “problem areas” in college football. First, it was supposed to eliminate split titles and crown one true champion. Obviously, after seeing the split titles between LSU and USC, the system has failed. Secondly, it’s supposed to eliminate champions such as BYU of 1984, and to this date, that feat has been accomplished.

When the system was in the creative stage, they should have just called it the “BYU” rule, which is designed to keep all mid majors from ever participating in a BCS championship game. The 1984 Cougars finished 12-0, defeating a 6-5 Michigan team in their final game, and were crowned Unanimous champions of college football. Of course, this was frowned upon by the more powerful leagues of the sport, and those spending and generating more money. When a mid-major wins it all in college basketball, it’s great for the sport. But if one dares to win it all in college football, it sounds an alarm, and brings change.

Today, if they were to field the most powerful football team in the land, the best BYU could hope for is a spot in one of the BCS bowl games. The system holds their schedule against them, and with only so many out of conference games to schedule, they can never power up enough to be championship game worthy. For the Cougars to win another national championship, they would have to join one of the BCS conferences.

Boise State, Hawaii, and Utah wiggled their way into the Big money games in previous years. BYU becomes the BCS buster to watch in 2008. Crashing the party has little room for error, as the regular season is a single elimination tournament for conferences outside the BCS. With 10 returning starters on an offensive unit that led the MWC with 30.1 points per game, the Cougars face a UCLA team they split with in 2007, a building Washington program, and a finale against in-conference rival Utah. Survive these 3 games, and run the table in conference, and they can reach the light at the end of that BCS tunnel.

A BCS bowl game would be quite an accomplishment for a program where athletes put sport secondary to religion and religious obligations. The BYU unit is normally older and more mature than most programs, with players sacrificing years to fulfill Mormon missions. They are family men, with wives and children. They don’t draw 5 star recruits or pay top dollar for coaches. Still, like the Busters before them, they somehow manage to win.

Mid Majors are 2-1 in BCS bowl games, which is quite an achievement, when you consider the ACC has only won once. BYU has one national championship, which is equal or one greater than many of the teams you’ll see listed in your top 25 rankings. The Cougars have a Heisman Trophy winner, which is something even mighty Alabama cannot claim. And Before they were leading the Bears and 49ers in Superbowl glory, Jim McMahon and Steve Young were attending classes, fulfilling religious missions, and playing on the blades of grass at Brigham Young University.

It’s too early to draw up a BCS guest list, but you better believe the Mormons are already dressed for this party.

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